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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Buddha dream venue ahead

An international convention centre, believed to be chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's dream project, will come up in New Town, Rajarhat.

Eco-friendly International Green Convention Centre ' with a host of state-of-the-art facilities and alluring add-ons, like a mini golf course and an arts and crafts village ' will be set up close to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, at an initial investment of Rs 350 crore.

'World-famous architects' will be engaged to build the centre, which will be the first of its kind in eastern India.

Sources at Writers' Buildings said the chief minister, who has taken a personal interest in the project, had finalised the plan after consulting minister Nirupam Sen and senior officials.

A six-member committee of secretaries, headed by the forest department's R.K. Tripathi, has been set up to monitor execution of the project.

The other members of the committee are the secretaries of the departments of finance, commerce and industry, tourism and housing, and the managing director of Hidco, the implementing agency of New Town.

The project will be executed in a joint venture between Hidco and a private partner.

'The agency will provide land, ready with all infrastructure facilities and basic civic amenities. The cost of the land will be treated as Hidco's equity. The private partner will be responsible for planning, development, execution, marketing and management and will also arrange funds,' Tripathi explained.

'Expressions of interest' have already been invited from firms willing to partner the project, said Hidco managing director Sumantra Chowdhury.

'Many reputed companies want to be involved in setting up the unique centre. We will select the partner after going through the experience and financial capabilities of the respondents. Work will start as soon as possible,' he said.

According to Tripathi, the initial funds for the project will be raised from the partner's capital investment, sale of space and loans from financial institutions (for which the state government will stand guarantor).

The government may also turn to the Centre for money. The chief minister has spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram and urged them to extend Central assistance for the project.

'The Centre has decided to allot funds for building two international convention centres in two states. We have urged New Delhi to provide us with Rs 200 crore for building the New Town centre,' said Tripathi.

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